As I stated last Tuesday on the radio program, my last two articles could be combined to summarize my conclusions on the reactions to the tragic shootings last Friday. Because Americans in practice trust government over God and because many Americans would rather do what is “for the common good” even though it violates The Bill of Rights, I am concerned over the calls to do something in order to prevent another tragic mass shooting.
I have not been one who spends a lot of his time exposing the liberal bias of the mainstream media. Though I believe no one can be totally unbiased in their reporting of news, most news reporters do their best to appear unbiased. But I must say that the immediate assumption by the well known news services that gun control of some form is needed is disconcerting to me. I have noticed some cases where those who think that there should be less gun control were treated unfairly in my opinion by those who should strive to understand that gun rights advocates also have a voice.
In reaction to this pressure, many gun rights advocates have called for other measures in an effort to do something to prevent another tragedy. Their solutions can be summarized by NRA’s president Wayne LaPierre who said along with the need for federally funded armed guards in every school,
“How can we possibly even guess how many [killers there are], given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”
So while one camp says that “assault rifles” should be banned to the average citizen, the other says that we should hire guards for every school and strengthen the government’s tracking of the mentally ill. (I understand both camps advocate broader responses, I am just stating what they are emphasizing)
But is anyone asking whether or not we should do something? By “we” I mean the government, which unfortunately most people mean when they use the word “we” today. There are plenty of things that we the people can do that doesn’t involve government. But to most people, this isn’t enough. It feels like inaction. It is as if a lack of government intervention or activity looks like Americans don’t care about children. I don’t think it is smart to think this way. If thousands of Americans used their own possessions to send gifts and donations to the families, that is real caring. If American parents are lead to take extra efforts in raising moral children, that would be a major step in preventing such tragedies. If organizations start teaching the proper use of defensive firearms that would help some too. Some organizations could advocate that watching violence on a screen is not good for children and advocate that parents should curb or end this. This would be good in prevention. I wouldn’t even oppose a gun control organization dispensing literature that shows the dangers of a “gun culture” (as long as it doesn’t involve the government). Counseling groups can promote the need for reducing depression and suicide and make their services available freely to those who feel like they want to do something violent.
I could go on and on. These are already happening as you read this. These are signs that America cares and is doing something. But all of these do not involve the government. Don’t assume that because there is no legislation passed that we didn’t do something substantial.
Why am I so fixated with government intervention? Because it’s unneeded, ineffectual, and often does more harm than good.
It is Unneeded
By no means do I want to diminish the deaths due to any mass murder but the chances of you dying in one are very small - one in 2.14 million. This year was double the average yearly rate for mass murder so normally the chances are one in about 4 million. Not only that, but the rate of gun related deaths in general have been falling since the late 1970’s. Is it worth billions of dollars and our liberties to ban assault rifles, pay billions for armed guards in schools, and fund a stronger mental health database? It sounds like a cruel question at this time but efforts to implement these programs are already underway and the question needs to be asked.
It is Ineffectual
The government is not good at prohibiting things. It can reduce activities by punishing them. Where crime is punished, crime is low. The safety we feel here in America shows that. But when it comes to banning a substance or an object (like drugs, alcohol, or firearms) the government shows its weakness. Use of illegal substances may shrink, but the usage and results still continue. Drug use is still relatively high. The assault rifle ban didn’t dent the gun murder rate. Better to prosecute the effects of drugs or the crimes committed by guns than try to ban them.
It Often Does More Harm than Good
Banning the substance rather than the crime can take money and manpower away from prosecuting the crime. It can result in the loss of American’s liberties. The prison system is full of drug users who a couple generations ago committed no crime. Banning illegal immigrants has resulted in a dangerous underground for those whose only “crime” is not having the right paperwork. Banning certain cancer treatments has resulted in less innovation and a cancer rate that is higher than it should be.
The same will happen if we (the government) “do something” about the mass shootings. The gun laws in place already did not prevent the shooter from getting guns. The laws banning guns on school campuses prevented anyone from defending themselves when the shooter arrived. If guns that are designed for defense are banned, then it will be harder for the innocent to defend themselves from criminals who by their nature do not obey gun laws in the first place.
As far as strengthening the mental health system, what does that mean? If we were to not allow the mentally ill to have guns, how to we find out who is mentally ill? Will everyone be tested or if you want to buy a gun must you undergo a test? How many people that show the “signs” of being a mass murderer actually do such an action? Should we detain them all even though they committed no crime? What is the definition of a mental illness? If a person received treatment for a year of heavy depression, will that person be banned from owning a gun? For how long? How many people reading this could qualify already for a mental illness even though all they have is some issues (we all have issues, right)?
As I taught in my last article, the Bill of Rights stands in the way of those who cry “do something”. As was quoted on last Tuesday’s program, those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither (Franklin). The answer is not for government to do something, especially if it violates our freedoms. The answer is for us as free persons to do something without government – which I believe we are already doing.
Have a Merry Christmas. May next year bring us more mercies from God and less murder among us.